Saturday night, it appeared as if a third straight loss was in store for the Oklahoma City Thunder. After suffering losses in which the team blew double-digit leads in the fourth quarters to Portland and Brooklyn, the Thunder were in another tough spot on the road vs. Minnesota.
Kevin Durant scored 23 of his 48 points in the fourth quarter of the 115-111 win Saturday night. KD hit what would be the game-winning jump shot as he put the Thunder on his back and brought them back.
Last night, the Boston Celtics were all but a challenge for the Thunder. Durant looked like he was on the playground, messing around on his way to 21 points, seven rebounds and eight assists. Reggie Jackson scored a career-high 27 points, 19 of which came in the first half.
So, after two crushing losses, are the Thunder back on track after their two wins over the weekend?
For me, the answer is yes and no. We definitely saw a lot of good things in the last two wins. Durant’s ability to still dominate without Westbrook in the lineup is possibly the most encouraging. During the playoffs, Houston and Memphis were able to really lock into KD, doubling and sometimes triple teaming him. The offense has better flow this season it seems and Durant can still put up huge numbers, which he will certainly need to.
Jackson has been the one struggling in his new, starting role. But the career-high last night will hopefully push him in the right direction. His confidence will always be there it seems. Right now, it feels like it’s just about him getting more comfortable in the new role.
I think what we are learning about the Thunder when they don’t have Westbrook is that they are much more vulnerable. They can lose leads you never thought you’d see them lose. If they don’t come out strong, any team can show up and beat them. There’s no more getting away with going through the motions.
Hovering just above .500 is not a bad mark for the Thunder without Russ. If Westbrook comes back when he is supposed to, shortly after the All-Star break, then the Thunder should still be able to hold the 3-4 seed in the conference by his return.
That’s what it appears the Thunder are on their way to doing and if that’s the case, then they certainly are on the right track. From now on, no more wins will be easy. Going through these close, grind out games may be just what the Thunder need to get back on the right track.